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Friday, 27 June 2014

DO YOU AGREE YOU ARE A BIGOT?


Tarquinius Superbus makes himself King
The reign of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last King of Rome, was marked by his pride, arrogance and greed.  His reign can only be measured by the level of tyranny he inflicted on his citizenry. He ruled through fear. Conducting arbitrary trials where he put to death, banished or fined those he suspected or disliked. He rose to power through the assassination of his father-in-law and siblings.  To gain wealth he attacked and plundered wealthier surrounding cities. This is not to discredit his political wizardry which allowed him to expand Rome’s sphere of influence upon which the greater Roman Empire used as a stepping stone to world dominance. His decline is all the more relevant because due to his excesses and his innate need to retain power he created enemies with the ruling aristocracy who deposed his family from Rome and created a republic.

We live in a time where society acclaims self importance, arrogance, vanity, conceit, narcissism, egotism and snobbishness. You only have to look at the intersection between the “Haves” and the “Have nots” to realize that as humans it is innate to want to see one-self as important, as belonging to a group of elite.

Adolf Hitler understood this very well. And used it successfully by rousing the Aryan race factor to bring about an elitist mindset among the German people. This deception worked successfully due to the great losses the German nation had faced after the Great depression of 1929 and the collective disillusionment that afflicted the nation. Hitler touched their hearts, and they gave him their minds. While economic and military advancement was essential and paramount, the subjugation  of other lower races was deemed appropriate through expulsion, starvation and extermination.

In the racially intolerant atmosphere of  1968, a day after the fatal shooting of Martin Luther King, Jane Elliot devised a controversial exercise to show the ills of discrimination, she separated her Third grade class into a blue-eyed group and a brown-eyed group.[i] And gave them a slew of rules and reasons why either of them were better for a duration of time, what followed were moments of discrimination from either group when it was stated they had an attribute that made them better.

In a world of more than 7 billion souls, where racial discrimination is no longer an accepted norm, where the richest seven countries in the world have a running agenda of alleviating extreme poverty, and where FIFA punishes racial discrimination in football, you would think discrimination based on the assumption that one belongs to an elite group would be a thing of the past.
But you only have to look at an offshoot of this behavior that exists at the edge of public scrutiny and away from legal reprimand.

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

History has proved this statement right “ every period of economic downturn also led to a rise in  discrimination, racism and xenophobia”. South Africa, Italy and Britain offer fine examples for discrimination against minorities in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008. 

Discrimination gone unchecked is genocide. The Rwandan genocide was ethnic, the holocaust was racial, the Armenian genocide was religious[ii]

A micro observation of this behavior can be seen in countries like Kenya,  where tribal allegiance seems to trounce the need to overturn a common enemy of poverty, corruption and increased marginalization. 

As human beings we seem to fall into a state of disillusionment when we can’t attack and resolve the poor state of our economies, when abject poverty or unemployment looms like a large torrential cloud before us. We thus sell our hearts to anyone who offers us a better option, a light at the end of this dark tunnel we are in.

   

Politicians with their sweet tongues, and their out of this world promises seem to offer an alternative that is better than our current mediocrity. We thus sell our hearts to the highest bidder and in the process shut down our minds, hoping for the best. 

When we are told we are better than another group, we agree. When we are told someone else has taken what is rightfully ours, we agree. When the person tells you to hate your enemy, you agree. When you are told to act against your enemy, you agree. As we do all these things, we are still human.
But we have not really changed our situation have we? 

Am I wrong to call us all bigots?

Whether in 1937 as a German discriminating against a Jew or a gypsy. The European colonial powers in their reference of the subdued African countries in pre and post colonial economic slavery. The Sunni and Shiites in the Middle East in religious factional animosity. The Italian concerned about the number of Africans crossing the Mediterranean. Or Kenyans as they look at Somalis taking over Nairobi economically while abject poverty afflicts millions across their country.

Do you agree or disagree?



[i] http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/lesson-of-a-lifetime-72754306/?c=y&page=1
[ii] https://filipspagnoli.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/financial-crisis-recession-and-anti-semitism.gif?w=354&h=410

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